With the retirement of the space shuttle one would think there are no operational space planes left but that's not the case.
In the early 2000's NASA tested a small craft called the X-40, a small aircraft with a wing shape slightly reminiscent of that of the shuttle and a size that could brig back memories of the old lifting bodies frm the late 1960's. This plane developed into the 120% larger X-37B space plane. The USAF ordered two of those small unmanned spacecraft and the first one was launched in 2010 on an Atlas V. It spent 224 days in space. A second X-37B even spent 469 days up in space.
|The real thing after its 2nd flight. Photo: Boeing/USAF|
John Jogerst made a kit of this small spacecraft available and recently changed the design a bit, adding the heat resistant tile structure to the plane's surface.
While I am awaiting a sudden moment of inspiration for the Alas boosters to be made, I decided to do Yogi a favour and do a testbuild of the new design.
But I can't just build. I am not like that. I started tinkering a bit more and gave the whole plane some more depth and structure. I added the insulation blanket texture and I made a post-flight version, with scorched heat shield and sides.
And that is what I am making now. And I still am adding details. I wanted to make it into a diorama while the plane is landing, so I opened the landing gear doors and fabricated some wheel wells.
This is getting out of hand, as usual.
Pictures after the break.
|The lower part of the fuselage, extra reinforced with mat paper|
|I opened up the air brake and reinforced it with CA glue..|
|And the landing gear doors. The original black surface has been modified|
and now has heat streaks from the re-entry.
|Inside I built the wheel wells.|
What next? We'll see. Keep this space in mind!